A Covid-infected pair who travelled from locked-down Melbourne to Queensland through remote NSW might face charges in all three states for the selfish journey, but, like past offenders, might get off with a slap on the wrist.
On June 1, the couple left Victoria’s ‘circuit breaker’ Covid lockdown and embarked on a 1,900-kilometer road journey via remote NSW before landing in Queensland on June 5.
The couple was most likely infected at least two weeks ago, according to health officials, because tests taken on June 9 revealed their virus levels were declining.
The pair had no legal right to leave Victoria and travel to Queensland, and authorities are now looking into whether they lied on their border exemption permits.
If they are proven to have disobeyed border directives in Queensland, they may face penalties of more than $13,000 and up to six months in prison.
The pair, like the three young ladies who triggered worries of a Covid epidemic last year by lying on their border declaration papers, might face a penalty in Victoria and NSW.
After travelling from Queensland to Melbourne in July last year to attend a party in an Airbnb flat, the women lied to get out of hotel quarantine.
Diana Lasu, 21, Olivia Winnie Muranga, 20, and Haja Umu Timbo, 21, were charged with one crime of falsifying or misleading papers and one crime of fraud at the outset.
They did, however, plead guilty to a lesser charge of failing to follow a public health directive.
After the gang returned to Queensland after a party in Melbourne when the city was under lockdown, Muranga and Lasu tested positive for COVID-19.
Muranga received a 40-hour community service term in Queensland, while Lasu and Timbo each received an 80-hour community service term.
They were also fined in Victoria for not adhering to gathering regulations.
Police will examine how the pair at the center of Australia’s newest Covid incident were able to enter the Sunshine State, according to Queensland Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young.
At the time the pair entered Queensland, Victoria had been labelled a hotspot, which meant Victorians couldn’t lawfully enter without an exemption.
Those who were let in would have had to spend 14 days in a hotel quarantine.
Health officials have identified 17 of the couple’s close friends, with three of them testing negative so far.
If the pair were permanently migrating to Victoria, Acting Premier James Merlino said they wouldn’t have broken the lockdown rules.
‘Victoria was unable to talk with the pair for a case interview yesterday, but we will do so today,’ Mr Merlino said. ‘It is essential to highlight that if they were migrating, it is not a breach of directives here in Victoria, but we just don’t know.’
New NSW Venues On Alert
- The Bakehouse in Forbes on June 1 from 2.30pm-2.50pm
- Browns Sportspower in Forbes on June 1 from 3pm-3.30pm
- Best and Less in Dubbo on June 2 from 12.20pm-1pm
- Chemist Warehouse in Dubbo on June 2 from 1.45pm-2pm
- Coles in Dubbo on June 2 from 4.30pm-5pm
- PKs Bakery in Dubbo on June 3 from 7.30am-8.45am
- Coles Express in Coonabarabran on June 3 from 11am-12pm
- ASSEF’s clothing store in Moree on June 3 from 3pm-3.30pm
The couple was only discovered when they came forwards for testing since the man’s profession required a negative result.
Police are looking into whether the pair crossed the NSW-Queensland boundary on June 5 in the isolated rural town of Goondiwindi to avoid authorities.
The pair took that path to avoid going via the Gold Coast, where police conduct 100 random interceptions each day and rigors border controls are in place.
Mayor Lawrence Springborg of Goondiwindi condemned the pair.
‘This apparent act of selfishness has not only inconvenienced our community, but has also placed us all at danger, reinforcing the necessity for vigilant awareness and adherence to health advice,’ he added.
The sick lady had been having symptoms since June 3, including a loss of smell, but only sought a test on June 8.
Venues On Alert Across NSW And Queensland As Infected Woman’s Timeline Is Revealed.
Left Melbourne and drove across the border to regional New South Wales
10.30-11am: Gillenbah, Caltex Narrandera
6pm-10pm: Forbes, Vandenberg Hotel
7-10am: Forbes, Brew Coffee Bar
10.30-11.30am: Dubbo, Shell Petrol Station
11.30am-2.30pm: Dubbo, Church Street Cafe
6-10pm: Dubbo, Reading Cinemas
Midnight-10am: Dubbo, Homestead Motel
1.30-4.30pm: Moree, Cafe Omega
From 1.45pm onwards: Moree, Gwydir Carpark/Motel & Thermal Pools
3.30-4.30pm: Moree, Woolworths
All day until 7.30am June 5 : Moree, Gwydir Carpark/Motel & Thermal Pools
7-9.30am: Moree, Cafe Omega
11.50-2pm: Moree, Cafe Omega
4.30-11pm: Moree, Amaroo Tavern
Arrived at Goondiwindi border and crossed into Queensland
7.35-7.50am: Goondiwindi, McDonalds
11-11.15am: Toowoomba, Caltex
Travelled to Sunshine Coast
2.45-3pm: Moffat Beach, Sunny’s
3.30 – 4.30pm: Coffee Cat in Kings Beach
10.45-11.30am: Stockland Caloundra Shopping Centre – Coffee Club and Kmart stores
12.10 – 12.45pm: Caloundra, Bunnings
1-2pm: Buddina, Kawana Shoppingworld
3.50-4pm: Caloundra, Baringa IGA